Muffin Through the Mondays

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Well, here we are, another Monday, and what a Monday it is. It’s both sunny and foggy out this morning, which is a strange combo. I would think it would be one or the other, but not both. Then again, I’m no meteorologist or weather summoner, so there’s that.

I started this morning off with a little bit of a twist. I baked some muffins, and they turned out very well, I thought. See?

20150831_093537 (1)They tasted pretty good, too. And no, hypothetical reader, I didn’t eat all of them. Not all, exactly. Fine, I had two. Are you happy, hypothetical reader? You are? You just would like me to share them with you? But I could only share them hypothetically, given your current…condition. You know, of being entirely made up. Can we move on now? Thank you.

Anyway, I think there’s something about a fresh muffin on a Monday morning to lessen the Mondayness of it all. That’s what I’d like to think, anyway.

And here we are at the very edge of August, the summer fading like the green of the leaves. Already there are hints of red and yellow; already the air feels different in the morning. More determined. Brisk. Serious.

The weeks churn along, from Monday to Monday, from season to season, and onward we go. At least we have muffins.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And Then This Happened

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So yesterday I wrote about starting Writing 5. That’s not happening today. Life takes some wild, unexpected turns, and yesterday held a hairpin one.

The sketch comedy writing I’ve been doing is at Chicago’s famed Second City Theater. Yesterday, a restaurant next door to the theater caught fire, destroying the Second City offices, and possibly many of the classrooms, though that part isn’t clear. Although looking at some of the pictures from the Chicago Fire Department in this article, it looks like the conference room where I had Writing 1 and Writing 4 is likely ruined.

It’s sad to see those hallways, those escalators we so casually went up and down — before class, during breaks, after class for drinks — coated in rubble. There’s the corner near that glass balcony where my classmates and I would stand and chat; now it’s coated in soot.

Reportedly there were some injuries, though, thankfully, apparently all minor. But I definitely did not expect to miss class because something so awful had happened to a place so iconic.

So hopefully we will kick off this odyssey next week, but in the meantime, I wish all the amazing people at Second City trying to make the best of a terrible, unexpected situation well. It’s clear that the one thing that wasn’t damaged in the fire was the Second City spirit.

Yes, that was cheesy. And yes, it still had to be said. I stand by my cheesiness.

 

Nearly Nine Months Later

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If you’ve been following my blog at all, you probably know by now that I’ve been taking a sketch comedy writing class. I started at the beginning of the year, and tomorrow I start Writing 5. Which is kind of exciting, because we had to submit a scene to move on to the class.

In Writing 5, we will be putting together an actual show, which we will stage in Writing 6, and then will run at one of the theaters at Second City. How fun is that?

So I am looking toward tomorrow with a wide mix of feelings. It’s strange to think that something I started on a lark at the beginning of the year has become such a regular fixture. There’s been a rhythm to it all, the classes and the homework. The fun of seeing my classmates each week.

And now it’s heading toward something else. I really don’t know that sketch comedy writing is my thing, I do much better with the expanse of a full novel’s worth of room to flesh and twist and humorize, but there is a certain satisfaction in trying something new, even if it’s not something you’re that great at, and giving it a whole shot anyway.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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No Rest for the Lazy

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Blogging today, I’m drawing a blank. A big, empty yawning blank. It probably doesn’t help that this day started out with bright, lovely sunshine, which slowly was taken over by clouds. Now it’s a kind of nondescript gray, not as though it’s going to rain, just as though the sky is grumpy.

I could really use some caffeine, if I was still into caffeine.

Yesterday, as it was, too much tea made me a jittery mess, and I’d rather not repeat that error. My brain and I seem to be at odds right now, as I want to get on with it, and my brain wants to lollygag. Not even lollygag, but something requiring even less effort.

Lazy brain.

The drilling was back, at least for a while this morning, and I’d forgotten what it was like, that vibrating noise you can’t quite ignore. I needed a quick run to the store, and it’s quiet now, though it might only be the lull between floors. Or maybe those clouds do mean rain, and they’ve taken themselves off of their convenient lightning conductors. Though I’ve seen them stay stalwartly clinging to the side of the building in worse.

If I could do absolutely anything I wanted with the day, I would marathon a great show, one episode into the other, the day bleeding away chunk by chunk, until the light shifted outside the window and suddenly it wasn’t day anymore.

That sounds like streaming heaven, doesn’t it? I’ve got food, I’ve got snacks. I’ve got work to do, I’ve got cleaning. Life is tough when you’re lazy.

Oh well, not every day can be a tribute to indulgence. I need to be stricter with myself. OK, self, get on with it.

See? I’m getting going already. And look at that. It’s a blog post. Watch out to-dos, I think I’m gathering steam.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Writing While Antsy

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There’s one big requirement for writing. You’ve got to be able to sit still and do it. Unless you have a treadmill desk, which really, to me, looks like a pre-broken-bone desk, because at some point one of those feet is not going to come down the right way. It’s just statistics.

But sometimes you feel antsy. I’m antsy today, it may have been the tea, I know I had too much and yet I couldn’t stop myself. Maybe it’s the Mondayness of it all. But whatever it is, sitting still right now is not an appealing option. I need to fidget, and my fingers on the keyboard are not enough fidgeting.

So what’s a writer to do when a big case of the antsies strikes? Sometimes I haul out my exercise ball and sit on on it, it allows for nervous movement. In fact I just grabbed it, with a hair of difficulty, as it was stored a little too cozily, which tells me I haven’t done enough lately with the exercise ball.

Is it helping? Eh.

Getting out and getting a little exercise can work sometimes, but I’ve already been for a walk this morning. It was pre-tea, though, so maybe it doesn’t count?

Sometimes I take a shower, (done and done) and that brings down the fidgety. Not so much today.

And when all the tricks fail, as they seem to be doing today, the writing still needs to be done. Sometimes, even when you’re all over the place, even when you’re antsy, you’ve got to get yourself to a sitting surface (in my case right now it’s a slightly bouncy surface), put the nervous energy aside, and just do the work.

Is it fun under those circumstances? Nope, I feel like sprinting away from the computer and taking a quick lap around the city of Chicago. But it’s time to focus, whether my jumpy body wants to or not.

We think of writing as such a peaceful, still thing. And it can be. But it isn’t always, and we have to do it anyway.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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And Then There’s Edinburgh

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And Edinburgh! I admit that one of the big reasons I wanted to go the UK was to see Edinburgh. I’m not sure when my fascination with this ancient city started; it was probably one of my British TV shows, with background shots of that gorgeous place.

So after our stay in London, we headed back to Heathrow — rather dramatically, as we ended up at the wrong terminal and Heathrow is huge — and took a short flight to the stunning capital city of Scotland. I expected heavy, dark, moody Scottish skies, but instead we had bright sunshine, which we certainly didn’t mind.

We started our trip at Edinburgh Castle, right at the top of the Royal Mile, a long stretch of tourist heaven. We didn’t realize that it was the festival, and the town was more packed that it normally would be with the visitors. Even better, Edinburgh is full of taxi drivers who love to talk about their wonderful city, and we had an amazing walk thanks to our first one. More on that later.

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IMG_2856As you can see, what was once a military advantage has morphed into a spectacular view. There was a little restaurant there, and I had some Scottish salmon (I tried to eat my weight in salmon while there, and I think I nearly succeeded). I also had my first taste of haggis. Yep. Haggis. I figured when in Scotland…it really wasn’t bad at all. The hotel offered vegetarian haggis as a breakfast option, and it tasted identical to me. Given that, I preferred it, as there’s less of a mental leap with lentils than sheep’s lungs, but over all, it’s pretty good. It’s a slightly spicy, barely textured nearly spread, really.

On our second day there, we did the very thing that pushed me Edinburgh-ward in the first place. We visited the Royal Yacht Britannia. I mean, where else on the planet could you tour a decommissioned royal yacht? We had a light meal in the tea room on board, to astounding views.

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It was absolutely worth the tiny amount of effort to get there. While in the crews’ quarters, looking at the the bunks stacked three high, I wondered aloud whether it was worse to be on the top or the bottom. The man ahead of me, there with his grandson, said you wanted to be on the bottom. I asked him he had served; and it turned out that not only had he served in the Royal Navy, he’d done six months on the Royal Britannia. He even pointed out his bunk, now behind a velvet rope.

Later that day, we went to the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh

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Such a lovely place.

And then we went for that walk the taxi driver suggested, and got a full view of the aged beauty that is Edinburgh.

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It was breathtaking.

Can you tell I was enamored of Edinburgh? I can’t wait to go back, it’s such a lovely city.

So that’s a not-so-quick recap of a trip I am so grateful I got to take. Thanks for sticking with me and sifting through my virtual vacation slides, it’s been so fun sharing it with all of you.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 

More Trip, More Pictures, More Did I Really See That?

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On again about my trip! The day after we arrived, we took an amazing, and I mean amazing, tour. There are all kinds of day trips you can take from London to see the sites within driving distance, the internet is absolutely packed with them. But I think we found the absolute best of them with the tour of Bath, Lacock and Stonehenge. Heavy on the Stonehenge, but we’ll get there in a minute.

The tour was through Premium Tours, and I would absolutely recommend them to anyone considering any such undertaking. Our guide and driver were friendly, knowledgeable and very well organized, so much so I just gave them a plug.

So we started off in the ancient Roman town of Bath. Well, most of Bath itself is not nearly so ancient, but there are parts, like the Roman baths themselves:

IMG_1858 IMG_1877 IMG_1884 I mean, that’s some engineering, that they’re still standing. The water is untreated, so there’s some kind of interesting algae, and they have these women who sit at the edge, demonstrating what it might have looked like back when it was used.

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I was so amused at the way the model brought her foot close to the water, as though she might dip it in as the mood struck, but yet kept the proper distance one should keep for something that might become a carnivorous blob at any moment.

After Bath, it was Lacock, a medieval village, where we ate at The George, a 14th century pub. Luckily the food wasn’t that old. Ba-dum-bum.

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But the stroll around the village was lovely, given the strange contrast between the old buildings and the cars tightly packed onto the streets. And check out the weather. We got incredible weather for the UK, bright sunshine and clear skies that even surprised our guides.

And then, finally, the highlight of the tour: Stonehenge at sunset. And the special bonus of this particular tour was that we were allowed inside the stone circle; most visitors have to stay on the path that goes around the stones. So not only did we get a gorgeous dose of English countryside, we got to get close to one of the most iconic mysteries of humanity.

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And why yes, I did take a ludicrous number of pictures. How did I pick these three? I just clicked a few, because otherwise, we’d all be here for days.

In the context of a memorable, fantastic trip, this tour was a major standout. There is something remarkable about being so close to the work of people who came so long before us, who had to use stone to shape stone, and left us something so incredible to ponder and admire.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!